Healthy Food

If your child is underweight, a dietitian’s advice is the best

Of course, as a parent, you want your child to be happy and healthy. You’re concentrating on giving them the proper quantity of nutrients to help them develop and thrive.

However, despite your best efforts, some children may fail to reach the necessary weight. As a result, you may wonder if your child is underweight for their age or size.

What causes a youngster to be underweight? How can you help a child who is underweight gain the weight they need to grow? If the things you do as a parent don’t appear to be helping, you might question, “When should I be concerned about my child’s weight?”

A paediatric registered dietitian discusses some frequent weight-related issues, as well as how healthcare practitioners may assist families in getting back on track and helping their underweight kid gain weight in a healthy way.

Q: What constitutes a child being underweight?

Ans: An underweight child is one who is in the bottom 5th percentile for weight in relation to height. Underweight is measured not only in comparison to other children their age, but also in relation to their height, as we clinically seek for a child’s proportionate size.

Weight-to-length measurements are used by doctors and nutritionists to monitor children from birth to age two.

After the age of two, we look at weight, height, and BMI (body mass index) for age using the Centers for Disease Control growth charts. The BMI for this age group is calculated by comparing a child’s weight to their height. A youngster who has a BMI of less than the 5th percentile is considered underweight.

Q: How can I know whether my child is overweight or underweight?

Ans: Parents should be aware of the following warning signs:

• Each child’s ideal weight is different. However, if your child’s weight percentile on the growth charts decreases at yearly physician appointments, you should be concerned.

· Keep an eye on how your child’s clothing fit at home. You should see your paediatrician if your younger kid does not outgrow her clothing each season.

•During bath time, or in the pool or beach during the summer, check to see whether you can see your child’s ribs. Ribs that protrude or are visibly apparent may indicate that your child is underweight.

Q: Are there any medical concerns causing this issue?

Ans: Prematurely born children are frequently underweight since their growth must catch up to that of their classmates. However, insufficient food intake is a prevalent cause of underweight in older children.

This might be due to picky eating or not. Several medical conditions can also decrease appetite or prevent nutrition absorption. These are some of them:

• Medications that decrease hunger, such as those used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

• Food allergies: These might make it difficult to get adequate calories. The bigger the task, the more food allergies there are.

• Hormonal or intestinal difficulties: These, as well as other nutrition absorption concerns, might prevent children from gaining weight as they develop.

Q: Are there any conditions that could prevent my child from eating a balanced diet on a daily basis?

Ans: If your child’s paediatrician determines that he or she is underweight, a one-day appointment with a nutritionist may be scheduled. The objective is to rule out inadequate food consumption as the source of the problem, and if that is the case, the dietician can make advice.

You’ll almost always be requested to keep a food diary of your child’s eating habits. Other options that the dietician will consider are:

• For children in childcare, some facilities do a better job of documenting that your child is getting enough calories during the day than others.

• For older children: Sports and other school activities might generate a busy schedule that causes children to eat insufficiently. They may have a larger caloric requirement if they are active, but they may not be able to meet it.

• For children who live in different households: When parents are divorced or separated, it’s possible that children will skip meals without either parent knowing.

Q: What kinds of eating habits should kids avoid?

Ans: Many parents should focus on preventing or avoiding some frequent tendencies in order to assist their child acquire weight correctly.

• Excessive snacking, often known as “grazing,” is one of the most prevalent hazards. Families should establish meal and snack times so that the child has enough time to become hungry before sitting down to a nutritious supper. Grazing will fill the youngster up on low-energy-density meals. They’ll consume more calories if they wait until mealtime.

• Electronics: It’s just as essential where you eat as it is what you consume. Children should consume healthy snacks at the table rather than aimlessly in front of the television, phone, or computer screen.

• Fruit juices, especially those with added sugar, should be avoided. Juices and other sweet liquids will satisfy children’s hunger without delivering any calories, fat, or protein.

• Protein powders: These aren’t advised because even underweight youngsters tend to obtain enough protein in their diet (and these powders don’t provide the nutritional balance needed for weight gain).

Q: How can parents assist their children in gaining weight in a healthy manner?

Ans: Believe it or not, the aim is to increase the amount of fats in the child’s diet — not just any fats, such as saturated fats from fried meals, but good fats such as those found in oils and nut butters. Here are a few recommendations:

Add nut butters to the mix. Encourage children who enjoy raw fruits and vegetables to eat celery sticks or apple slices with peanut butter, for example. It’s also a good idea to sneak in some olive oil or other heart-healthy oils by putting them in meals, which may assist even picky eaters.

Include healthy oils in your diet. It’s also a good idea to sneak in some olive oil or other heart-healthy oils by putting them in meals, which may assist even picky eaters.

Oral vitamins are an option. Consult a qualified nutritionist to see whether an oral supplement is appropriate for your kid.

Q: What if my family’s dietary requirements or beliefs are unique?

Ans: Dietitians work closely with parents and families to help them understand why their food intake is insufficient and to develop a plan that meets the objectives and beliefs of each family.

Hyland adds that dietitians focus on working one-on-one with families to help children gain weight in a way that is compatible with the family’s dietary preferences. “They can work with a wide range of dietary choices and variations, including organic foods, whole foods, vegan diets, and religious or culturally inspired diets.”

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